Week 6!

It’s week 6!

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Even though it has been fun to blog about traveling and food, I should probably give an update about how my research is going! I am still working on my gas chromatography experiment and am slowly moving into stage 2. Stage 1 includes de-hulling and cyro-grinding rice samples which is simple preparatory work for Stage 2 and 3: extraction and analysis…except when we have over 500 samples…and we run out of liquid nitrogen..

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It’s okay, though! When I have down time from my experiment, my supervisor, Cindy, is very good at giving me work to do or new things to learn! I have observed and helped other researchers in the lab and have even done research on one of the current controversial issues in the Philippines: Fake Rice.

A report about the alleged fake rice came out after a man posted a video on social media and claimed that the rice he purchased in a market in Taguig City was plastic. The National Food Authority (NFA) assured the public on Friday, June 23, that there is no proof that fake rice is being sold in the Philippine market. It said that based on laboratory tests conducted by the agency’s Food Development Center (FDC), the suspected fake rice have starch granules, starch content and sensory characteristics typical of raw rice. The FDC conducted three laboratory analyses on six raw and two cooked rice samples submitted using microscopic analysis, starch analysis, and sensory evaluation to test if these contain harmful chemicals. NFA recalled that two years ago, there was a report on alleged fake rice in Davao City. But laboratory tests showed that the strange appearance of the alleged fake rice was only due to a “retrogradation process” involving a series of freezing, thawing, and heating.

Along with the research, I have comfortably set into a routine in the lab. I have learned a lot about scientific techniques and instruments (I used a sonicator for the first time the other day). I have also learned how to properly plan out and organize an experiment such as the necessity of keeping a detailed notebook. But, I also realize that the work environment is still a place enjoy your time. The camaraderie of the workers in Grain Quality is unlike any office I have been in. Everyone is always smiling and willing to help! They are all so kind, and I have had a lot of fun. They are always bringing in snacks for me to try and offering to give me things anywhere from Genetics textbooks to their favorite Korean dramas. Here are a few shots from a recent birthday party:

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I swear the cake is the most delicious thing about this country.

Thanks to my lab mate, Herlyn, I have also been learning quite a bit of Tagalog. I can count to ten and say phrases such as good morning, good evening, thank you, you’re welcome, it’s hot, how are you?, I’m fine, that’s delicious, and let’s eat!

Hope things are going well back in the states! Have a rice day!

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